Knowing that I would (a) be drinking a few beers on Saturday night, and (b) that I would spend most of Sunday working on some ‘real work’ for next week; a trip to Swinley was organised for those that fancied a Saturday ride.
One advantage of ‘not being as young as you were’, is that your children can share in some of your favourite pastimes, and maybe you pass on the sense of fun and adventure that goes along with your enjoyment of a particular sport. So my daughter got to accompany me, riding the ‘smaller’ Pace (RC405) while I rode the larger RC506.
Steven D also joined us, in order to work up a thirst for the Rebellion brewery open week-end, and Tommo and John (not to be confused with JR) also came along. As Steven knows the area a lot better than myself, I was content to set my Satmap to ‘plot route’ mode, and was very happy to relinquish guiding duties to him.
We headed off South East from the Look Out, towards the A322, before plunging South and into the singletrack that was in such good condition. There were very few puddles of mud (maybe a half dozen or so on the entire ride) but the recent rainfall had done enough to dampen the dust and make riding conditions excellent. This did not prevent Ellie being the first faller of the day though, but other than a minor graze to the knee there was no harm done.
The usual suspects were tackled along the way, and in rough order we headed due West across the forest towards the Corkscrew and the Bomb Holes, via the extended Stickler. We all had a good play on the Bomb Holes, as the pics suggest. John and I also had fun with a double jump just West of the Corkscrew.
Bikes were swapped to see how others’ rides performed, and John made hurtful comments about how my excess weight was not showing his bike at its best, as it was set up for his more svelte figure. I think Tommo quite enjoyed my Pace 506, or maybe he was being diplomatic.
We then went South and back across via Seagull and Tank Traps, before going for a play on the Jump Gulley. There were a few youngsters looking moody, and they occasionally donned a full-face helmet and jumped a lot higher than us, but we had great fun and completed several runs down the gulley. Steven and I also tried the drop in from the left hand side, and I again ‘cased’ the right hand drop in, but spent too long looking at it and psyched myself out.
Next up was a sinuous route across to the Labyrinth, via the ‘Ski Jump’ which proved so much fun we went around twice. The jump on the down slope is no more, but there is a little stump which can be used as a small boost to add interest to the down section.
Once at the ‘Expert’ area, we headed down Deerstalker 2, then back up and around for Babymaker, before entering the Labyrinth itself. This area too was pretty popular, I know it was the week-end, but Swinley seemed busier than normal.
We exited the Labyrinth and entertained ourselves on a few trails to the East. Here, I became a victim of my lack of leg power and landed upside down in the undergrowth.
Here’s a quote from the sympathetic reporting of my mishap on the forum.
Someone, I will not mention who, decided he wanted to do a double jump and while climbing the trail stalled and slowly fell backwards into a ditch in front of us all. The rider on his back, still holding the handlebars with the bike on top, was trapped as the bike was caught up in some foliage. As he called out for help we all rushed over ….. to our bags to grab phones to take pictures… like you do
Note Tommo in the above photo rushing to take more pics with his camera phone .
Having dusted myself down, and had fun completing the drops across the road that led to the undignified position I found myself in earlier, we headed back across to the Jump Gulley. John attempted to pass on the benefits of his early years as a BMX racer, but I think my hip jumps need considerable work before they become detectable to the casual observer.
Finally it was a return to the Look Out via Twisted Sister and the Pumpy Bit (ok, so I don’t know if it has a proper name, so Pumpy Bit it is).
A total of 32km (20 miles in old money) were completed, with a total ascent 14m shy of 1,000m. I think our actual moving time was about 3 hours, though we were out for almost 5. A fun and sociable ride, and I think my daughter did enjoy it (despite the early mishap).
P.S. Probably not an ideal warm-up for the South Downs Way (105 miles) in a day, scheduled for Friday. Still, it’s a bit late to be worrying about my fitness now.